Life at the office on Lapinrinne has gone back to normal as we have had our induction and planned the coming year. On a two-day planning trip to Vierumäki we came up with new ideas, clarified our goals and set new guiding principles for the year ahead. The focus was set strongly on the future; first of all the opening seminar, where we get to share our ideas with others operating in this field, and improve the ideas further.
Even though I am sure that all Presidents say the same thing at the beginning of their term, I will risk sounding like a cliché and state that 2017 is going to be a very interesting year for the entire student movement. Last year some major decisions were made regarding the FSHS’s situation in the social welfare and health care reform, changes to student finances, and bringing in tuition fees for international students. According to the Minister of Finance, the Government’s mid-term review in April will mean a possibility for further cuts, which means that as education is one of the main expense items within the public finances, it will once again be under threat. The municipal elections in the spring will re-define party relationships, and particularly bring up the status of basic education for debate. The education field is also discussing a reform of student selections, improving youth employment and updating skills.
In 2017 Finland celebrates its 100th year of independence. This is an excellent chance to re-define the image that we want to convey of our country to the outside world. Are we introverted or open? Do we settle for the way things are, or do we want to build something new? What are we good at? At SYL we want to emphasise Finland’s position at the forefront of education, and encourage people to look at education from a new perspective. That is why we, with the help of students, will organise Finland’s largest learning event Dare to Learn in 2017. The aim of this event is to bring together the experts on modern education from Finland and abroad to create an even better, more learning-focused education. This year we will also shake up perceptions on learning at the office and try to figure out what lifelong learning actually means. You can expect to see combinations of different viewpoints, podcasts, workshops and other interesting things.
Towards better generation policy
It is natural and even expected of us to talk about education, but when we do that we are actually building a reality for future generations of students, not for ourselves. That is why we will be braver about expressing our opinions on other matters that concern future generations. Next time changes are being made to the pensions system that are not favourable for us, we will explain why it is not worthwhile. When someone claims that everything comes more easily to the current generation of students, we will show them that this is not the case. And if someone tries to justify cuts to education and student financial aid by saying that this will leave young people with a smaller burden of public debt, we can tell them that the burden caused to us by cuts is actually much larger.
Moving forward united
For us to be able to credibly challenge others to change their views, and in order to be ready for the challenges brought on by a changing operational environment, we sometimes have to take a look in the mirror. That is why this year, together with the student unions, we intend to examine our own activities through a magnifying glass to make sure that we are using our resources for the benefit of the students in the best possible way. In addition to reciprocal support we will also consider how we as a movement could be more compact and efficient.
Moving forward with new guidelines
At last year’s General Assembly we did not only choose a new board and decide on a new plan of action, but we also decided to create a new policy paper for the Union. The entries to the policy paper were prepared throughout the year in cooperation with the student unions, so the result is a document that reflects all of us. The new paper also includes some unusually strong standpoints on matters that do not relate directly to higher education, such as structures of working life, early childhood education, and gender equality. There are of course also entries which relate to more familiar topics, but the direction we have taken is clear: we want to influence the society around us on a larger scale and leave our own mark on these times. For that, us at Lapinrinne need all of you.
Riina Lumme, President